Jean Rouch may not be a household name, but some of the world’s most revered filmmakers — from Jean-Luc Godard to Werner Herzog — are indebted to him. The French filmmaker pioneered the concept of “ethno-fiction,” fictional films built around the lives of everyday people, and developed the bulk of his filmography out of time spent in Africa. His 1958 feature “Moi, un Noir” follows the daily routine of a trio of Nigerian immigrants off the Ivory Coast who imagine themselves as movie stars, and its blend of jump cuts and amateur performances reportedly inspired Godard’s 1960 debut “Breathless.” Rouch’s documentary “Chronicle of a Summer,” co-directed with Edgar Morin, is considered a foundational achievement of the cinéma vérité movement.
Nevertheless, Rouch has remained a cinephile secret for decades, and in the wake of his death in 2004, much of his work has been unavailable in the U.S. — until now.
On November 14, Icarus Films will release “Eight Films By Jean Rouch,” a collection of the filmmaker’s key works in Africa, as a DVD collection. The box set will come with a booklet by Paul Stoller, an ethnographer who worked with Rouch, and an additional film, “Jean Rouch, the Adventurous Filmmaker,” a new documentary produced by ARTE France about Rouch and his films on Africa. It also features an essay about the director by IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, originally printed in Cineaste.
The box set will include new 2K restorations of “The Human Pyramid,” “Jaguar,” “Lion Hunters,” “Little By Little,” “Mad Masters,” “Mammy Water,” “Moi, Un Noir” and “Punishment.”
Watch the exclusive trailer for the release of “Eight Films By Jean Rouch” below: